I was overwhelmed to win in my category; amazed! It was one of those things that you hope will happen but never does, so it was fantastic.
I have been doing this for twenty years, so that probably had a lot to do with my win. I think also it is the level of learners that I work with; people with specific learning difficulties for example, and it can get very slow and laborious. I don”t get instant results; it is a matter of sticking with your students. I also think it is about having belief in your students that they will achieve eventually.
[On Train to Gain]
I think it can only be a good thing. It will pick up people who would not normally be involved in that sort of learning. It’s a much wider throwing of the net, rather than individual colleges trying to drag people in. At last, now it is being recognised at a national level, and as I see it, there can only be good that comes from it.
[On whether the awards undermine those who remain unrecognised]
I think it highlights the fact that basic skills is an area where award winning should be, because I personally think it is one of the hardest teaching areas that you can be in. I think people are glad that it raises the profile of basic skills teaching; it brings it into the papers, into the colleges, and people are reading about it. I don”t think it is a bad thing at all.
[On what she would like to see remedied immediately]
For one thing, I don”t think there is enough provision for basic skills. I feel that we are not reaching a huge percentage of people who will not bring themselves forward, for whatever reason, to be a basic skills student. And I just feel that out there, there are millions of people who are not coming forward, and we, as a college, I think are not pushing hard enough, are not making ourselves visible enough.
We”re trying to make it easy for people to come in, opening more places in their local communities where they can attend these classes as opposed to going to a college.
I actually think people should be paid to go on a basic skills course. A lot of people won”t agree with that, but if you”re giving up work-time or evening-time when they could be working then they should rightly be reimbursed. That is the sort of thing that would persuade people, to make it worth their while. Many people do think that, “I have got this far, why do I need it now?”
We need to push them over the edge on that one.
Patricia Barr, HMP Manchester.
Winner: Outstanding Basic Skills Practitioner
Tomorrow: Maria Rounding, Winner of the Outstanding Further Education Practitioner award
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